North Carolina murders: Fathers of slain USA Muslim students maintains “It was a hate crime”
The fathers of the three promising Muslim students shot in their Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA apartment spoke before their funeral on Thursday 12th February, calling on Americans and the rest of the world to understand that they died in a hate crime.
Slain on the Tuesday 10th February night shooting were dental student Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
Police had said the attack was preceded by a dispute about a long-standing dispute over parking with their neighbour Craig Hicks, 46, who has been formally charged on the murder of the three students.
However, in the wake of the killing of three promising students there has been an outcry about how Western media has failed to cover this story.
The news originally spread fast on social media such as Facebook and Twitter mainly by Muslims and has sparked a worldwide social media and human rights outcry of “Muslim Lives Matter.”
Despite the assumption that Hicks attacked the student over a parking dispute, many from the Muslim global community believe the attack is related to religious or ethnic discrimination. The father of the two women who lost their lives has called it a hate crime.
The women’s father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, who has a psychiatry practice in Clayton, USA, said regardless of what prompted the shooting, Hicks’ underlying animosity toward Barakat and Abu-Salha was based on their religion and culture.
The three students all grew up in Raleigh. The two women graduated from Athens Drive High School, and Barakat graduated from Broughton High School.
They all attended N.C. State University as undergraduates, where they all earned honors. Barakat finished in 2013, and Yusor Abu-Salha graduated last fall. Razan Abu-Salha, a design student, made the dean’s list in her first semester in the fall.
Yusor Abu-Salha was to enroll at UNC’s dental school next fall, joining her husband there. They planned to open a practice together, but both advocated for global dental health, providing care and supplies to people in the United States and the Middle East. On Jan. 29, Barakat posted a Facebook photo of a Durham project that gave dental supplies and food to more than 75 homeless people this year.
Barakat was scheduled to travel with 10 other dentists this summer to Reyhanli, Turkey. There, they planned to treat Syrian refugee children for urgent dental needs, pass out toothbrushes and toothpaste, and support Turkish dentists and clinics.
“We are saddened by the lack of media coverage in this case, which stands in stark contrast to the wall-to-wall top story coverage that the Paris shootings rightfully received.” – Sabby Dhalu, Organiser of Stand up to Racism
Anti-racists and Muslim communities protested outside the BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London last week to condemn the BBC’s silence in regard to the horrific shooting of three Muslim people in the USA.
In stark contrast to the Paris shootings, there was no immediate coverage on the murder of the the three Muslim students. It was not headline news or even covered in the main news bulletins.
On the other hand there was widespread coverage on social media, where #MuslimLivesMatter trended – a reference to the racist nature of the attack and the lack of coverage of it.
Sabby Dhalu, Organiser of Stand up to Racism said: “Our condolences and thoughts are with the families and friends of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha,and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.
“We support their calls for this to be considered a hate crime. Any loss of life should be treated equally. Muslim people are consistently portrayed as the perpetrators but not the victims of terrorism and hatred.
“We are saddened by the lack of media coverage in this case, which stands in stark contrast to the wall to wall top story coverage that the Paris shootings rightfully received.
“Politicians and influential figures lined up to blame the entire Muslim community for those horrific actions and ‘kill all muslims’ trended worldwide on twitter without an international outcry.
“We are concerned that attacks against the Muslim community are taking place in a heightened climate of Islamophobia and hatred. We will say loudly and clearly tonight that Muslim lives matter, all attacks of this nature should be brought to justice and receive equal coverage.
Weyman Bennett, Joint National Secretary Unite Against Fascism said: “The prevalence of racism and Islamophobia means that when Muslim and Black people are murdered, their plight is willfully ignored.
“In a modern democracy, the first right is a right to life.
“To deny Muslim people equal treatment is a reflection of anti-Muslim racism in our society. We must stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. They are today’s scapegoats. Tomorrow it will be others.”